A rainbow assortment of arepas arrived in Midtown East this week with the soft opening of Arepas, a new Venezuelan cafe that debuted on the busy intersection at 57th Street and 3rd Avenue. Run by Celestino Diaz, who hails from Caracas, and Executive Chef Gabriela Machado, also a native Venezuelan, the eatery serves four different flavors of the griddled corn cakes, which are then stuffed with an assortment of proteins and vegetables.
The restaurant's "Combo Especialitas" include the Brooklyn, a verde arepa—made with cilantro, parsley, lime and masa harina—stuffed with vegetables, avocado, radishes and jalapeno ($7.50) and the Morningside, a roja arepa—made from beet and yellow masa harina—with egg perico, jamón and guayanés cheese ($7.75). Sauces like a roasted garlic cream and salsa rosada can be added on the side.
Bold diners can opt to design their own meal from one of the colorful arepas, choosing from fillings that include beef short ribs and pulled pork, among others. Supplemental fillings come in the form of black beans, onions, arugula and avocado, plus cheeses like cotija, cheddar and buffalo mozzarella. The full menu also highlights other Venezuelan specialties like sweet plantains and tequeños, which are breadsticks filled with cheese.
Though there are some tables for eating-in, Areppas is more of a fast casual affair, which makes sense given its location. "I love the energy at 57th Street and Third Avenue," Diaz told DNAinfo. "There's a lot of foot traffic during the day, and we're catering to nearby business, as well as to residents of the community. I thought it would be an ideal location to ensure that Latin food could assume an updated identity and that it would move beyond the parameters of more niche markets."
954 Third Avenue, 212-355-3901; areppas.com